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Health Music France

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New noise levels giving French clubbers headaches

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French musician Jean-Michel Jarre performs on 15 July, 2017 in Carhaix-Plouguer, western France. Fred Tanneau/AFP

France's superstar DJ Laurent Garnier banded together with the country's top nightclubs on Monday to sound the alarm about new noise restrictions imposed on music venues.


A decree published by French President Emmanuel Macron's government in August was designed to help reduce hearing problems linked to loud music at nightclubs or music festivals.

It lowers the maximum sustained sound level by three decibels, to 102, and also puts limitations on the volume of deep throbbing bass lines which are beloved by fans of house, techno and drum and bass music, among other genres.

A column in Libération newspaper on Monday co-signed by Garnier, electronic music pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre and the owners of Paris's top clubs and festivals urged readers to "Make some noise to save music."

They waxed lyrical about the joys of powerful basslines that make people want to dance, saying they delivered a sensation "just as keenly felt as a beautiful voice is by other music fans."

"We're quietening down fun, muzzling music and stopping artistic work living in its physical dimension," the open letter said.

As well as risking a decline in the numbers of people going out, the law also imposes new requirements on music venues that could prove too costly for small owners, the signatories warned.

Exposure to loud music can cause a ringing in the ears known as tinnitus that usually passes after a few hours but can lead to long-term problems.

In 2012, Canadian electronic music artist Grimes cancelled a series of gigs due to hearing difficulties.

Specialists say that listening to loud music on headphones is the cause of increasing health problems, particularly among young people, while some experts recommend wearing earplugs at concerts or in loud clubs.

The new rules are being appealed by an association representing French music venues.

- with AFP